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PSRP Researcher Speaking: Decentralization and Local Consent in Divided Societies

June 24, 2017 - June 27, 2017

PSRP researcher Laura Wise is presenting a paper as part of the joint conference ‘Democratization and Constitutional Design in Divided Societies’, June 24-27 at University of Cyprus, Nicosia. The conference is organised by three IPSA research committees: Politics and Ethnicity, Comparative Federalism and Multi-Level Governance and Democratization in Comparative Perspective. This presentation is related to the PSRP Peace Processes research theme, and the Negotiating Peace project. The presentation has been supported by the University of Edinburgh School of Law Research Support Fund.

Democratization and Constitutional Design in Divided Societies

The conference will provide an opportunity to examine the role of different factors (e.g., ethnicity, gender, class, political institutions, efficacy of multi-level governance, the intersection between peace and democratic stability) in fostering democratization in the context of regional and global integration. We welcome contributions that focus on democratization as an open-ended process driven by either internal or external factors, embedded in local, regional, or global dynamics as well as social, economic and legal legacies of the past.

The conference will be convened in Nicosia, Cyprus at the time when the country is undergoing a complex and historic process of designing political institutions to bridge the gap between the island’s divided communities. In particular, we welcome proposals that reflect upon the constitutional design process in Cyprus as well as proposals that develop case studies or comparison of issues of democratization evident in any part of the world or those which engage a theoretical perspective on institutional and constitutional designs in ethnically, religiously, nationally and linguistically divided societies.

For Us but Without Us: Decentralization and Local Consent in Divided Societies

Decentralization as a form of power-sharing in deeply divided societies has been a popular aspect of constitutional designs in peace plans developed by international mediators. Much of the academic literature on the subject attempts to assess whether decentralization contributes to further division of divided societies, or if it sates ethno-national group demands for further autonomy. This focus on outcomes and efficacy, however, can overlook the processes of negotiating and implementing decentralized plans – particularly the role of local, non-elite national minorities in determining how power should be devolved in order to accommodate their needs.

This paper attempts to develop understandings of decentralization as a form of peacebuilding, by questioning the practice of implementing power-sharing plans from the top-down, with a form of governance depicted as moving decision-making from the national to the local level. Whilst wary of local turn approaches which could fetishize local knowledge, it asks what importance local minorities place on peacebuilding notions of consent, legitimacy, and transparency, when developing decentralized systems of governance. It explore these questions through qualitative analysis of minority discussions about the Association/Community of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo.

Source: IPSA RC14 Politics and Ethnicity

Picture credit: Laura Wise


June 24, 2017
June 27, 2017
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University of Cyprus
Kallipoleos 75
Nicosia, 1678 Cyprus
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